CHRIS DALE: "We should have been terrified but we were young and stupid"

On this day, 25 years ago Bruce Dickinson and the guys played historical concert in the city under the siege. Today we talked to Chris Dale, who was there, playing bass and making history

Objavljeno: 14.12.2019. 07:00

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On Saturday, December 14th will be 25 years since that legendary concert in Sarajevo. You're the one who kept the memory of it on your blog and made sure that it does not fall into oblivion. Tell us a bit more about the blog and how you kept the memory alive?


I was writing articles for a heavy metal website called MetalTalk, and I decided to tell the tale of our show in Sarajevo. It ended up as quite a long article as I really wanted to tell the full story rather than skip bits or glamourise it in any way. I got a lot of nice feedback from readers but the best part was hearing from Bosnians who had actually been at the show and them saying how much it meant to them at the time. Then a Bosnian actor, Jasenko Pasic got in touch to say he thought  it would make a great documentary film and from there we started working on the idea of the film Scream For Me Sarajevo.


Like I said, it's been 25 years. Quarter of a century since that day. When you look back, how do you feel? What is the first thought when you think of that day?


It's incredible to look back on. Did we really do that? Did we really go into an active war zone to play a concert? Apparently we did but it still seems unreal.


Bruce, you and the guys spent a few days in Sarajevo. You also did one small gig. Describe our readers those days. What did you do on the day of the main show in Bosnian Culture Center?


The show day was mostly spent setting up for the concert and soundchecking. The next day, we were driven around town to see the sights and the devasation. We also visted an orphanage, that was truly heart breaking. We had gone there not sure what to expect. I thought there must be some kind of ceasefire in place if they were inviting a band over. I thought as the UN were there that people had basic food and hygiene. Of course the UN was doing a lot but it couldn't save all these people dying around them. 


Was it the first time that you visited a war zone?


Yes of course. Nobody wants to experience that kind of thing twice, although I did accidentally stumble into indpendence riots in Zagreb a few years before.


What were your impressions of Sarajevo when you first saw it?


It was devastated. Every building had scars, most had lost their windows. Shops were boarded up and there were very few people on the streets. There were fresh graveyards all over the place. I had never seen anything like it. 


What are your impressions of Sarajevo now, many years later? When all that horor is gone.


It's beautiful now, espcially as I saw what it once was. It's mostly rebuilt although some scars remain. I love that city now, so vibrant and full of life.



On scale from one to ten, how scared were you while driving in that lorry from Split to Sarajevo?


We should have been terrified but we were young and stupid. We knew there was danger but when you're young you just breeze along. Each step of the way however got more and more scary, hearing gunfire in the distance. Then hearing closer gunfire and artillery fire. As we got closer to Sarajevo, it clearly got more real.


Do you remember the setlist at BKC? I've been trying to find the exact setlist, but so far no luck.


It would have been the same setlist as on  the Alive in Studio A/Marquee album. We were touring Bruce's Balls to Picasso album, so most of the songs were from that.


You saw a lot of pain and suffering during your stay in Sarajevo. You also said that it had affected you and had changed your view of the world. In what way has your view changed after this whole experience?


It has shown me not to take modern life for granted, safety, food, windows... all the basics. It has shown me that it doesn't take much for us to descend into barbarity. It has shown me that politicians with right wing agendas are a real danger and that Srebrenica is never too far from any of our lives.


Were you aware back then that you were actually making history? Doing something for people in Bosnia that will stay with them for many years to come?


No, the enormity of it didn't really occur to me at the time. It was only years later writing the articles and making the film that Bosnians told me what it had meant to them. Back then, if anything I felt guilt that we had not been able to help them in any material way. We couldn't smuggle anyone out, we didn't even think to bring gifts, chocolate, books, even toilet paper would have been a help. Instead we just watched the horror and went back to our lives of luxury. It is only now with hindsight that I see we did help, we helped in the only way we knew how by playing a rock concert for them. I'm so glad we did that now.


Bruce said in the documentary that he felt he had given everything that night and like it still wasn't enough. What do you think of that?


It was different for each of us. I thought we'd done a good show, the people loved it and went crazy. Most importantly we hadn't been shelled during the gig, as that was a very real danger.


In April this year you were back in Sarajevo. You also played a show in club called Underground, sharing a stage with our friend Mirza :) How was the show? With Bruce in the audience, you and the guys playing Tears Of The Dragon? :)


That was great fun. I took a band from London  to play a show there just for the fun of it and yes, it was great to have Mirza Coric up there playing with us. He was in the audience for Tears of the Dragon in 1994, it was a nice full circle to have him up there playing it with us. Bruce was in town to receive an honour from the city of Sarajevo. I was quite surprised when he came to the gig though. A noisy, smokey, sold out rock club probably isn't the best place for a singer recovering from throat cancer to visit!

Have you tried traditional bosnian dish called 'ćevapi'? :)


Yes, of course. I love it! Bosnia and the Balkans has some great food. Of course back in 1994, we didn't find any cevapi, we were on UN rations of pasta and tinned beans! 


I was planning on coming to Sarajevo in April also, but unfortunately I couldn't come and I'm still sad because of that (I'll probably never forgive myself for missing that) so I have to ask, will you and the guys be back to Sarajevo soon? For me please? :)


I'll always be back in Sarajevo. That city holds a very special place in my heart.

Iva Grošić

Text by:

Iva Grošić

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